MANILA - Justice Secretary Leila De Lima has ordered the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Witness Protection Program (WPP) to evaluate the status of Maguindanao massacre case state witness Lakmodin Saliao in the wake of his claims of payoff to the justice department team handling the trial of the case.
De Lima tasked the WPP to make the proper recommendation on Saliao's WPP coverage, considering that he granted media interviews regarding the case without first seeking official clearance from the WPP or the DOJ.
"I will ask the WPP office to give me a report and proper recommendation with respect to that," De Lima said, in response to media queries about possible violations Saliao may have committed as far as his undertaking with the WPP is concerned.
Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, whom Saliao has accused of receiving bribe money from the Ampatuans, said Saliao faces possible discharge from the WPP especially since his testimony before the trial court has already been completed.
"Bakit siya naiinterview sa media? Covered siya ng WPP. Siya ay sheltered ni [Toto] Mangudadatu na kliyente ni [Atty. Nena Santos]. WPP is considering to discharge him from the WPP," Baraan said.
While Saliao is under the WPP and the program monitors him regularly, Mangudadatu has physical custody of him.
Baraan has accused Santos of orchestrating Saliao's claims due to her objection to the DOJ's decision to rest its case against primary accused Andal Ampatuan, Jr. and 27 others.
De Lima and Baraan stressed that Saliao's status will be carefully evaluated before any decision on his WPP coverage is made.